Something weird and horrible is happening in pop music at the moment. I’m not talking about shallow-but-necessary tat like One Direction, who are as replaceable as hairspray and, like hairpsray, will always be around in one form or another. No, I’m talking about something much more sinister and far more damaging; the Sheep In Wolves Clothing. These are “artists” who project themselves in such a way as to appear authentic or grounded, apparent beacons of honesty and passion amid a sea of frauds and swindlers, but closer inspection reveals the artistic equivalent of a chicken korma from Tesco. Or it put it another way: the blandest shit on the planet. It is safe, dependable and completely uninspiring. And people are falling for it hook, line and sinker.
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You know exactly who I’m talking about. Mumford and Sons are the poster boys for faux-authenticity. They wear waistcoats and sport designer facial hair and play banjos. This, they would have us believe, is “proper” music, all analogue and earthy and stuff. They don’t use synthesizers or computers or any of that nonsense. That’s cheating! Look at that singer sweat earnestly as he thrashes away at his acoustic guitar. He means it! He’s FOR REALS. Only he’s not. He’s peddling something devoid of hunger or energy and it’s the safest option available. There’s nothing remotely genuine about Mumford & Sons, besides the fact that they’re genuinely shit. They pose for photos in their Farmers-At-A-Wine-Bar outfits like they’re doing a fucking shoot for Marks & Spencer or something. We’re having our picture taken outdoors, they’re telling us, because the outdoors is REAL and NOT FAKE. Even David fucking Cameron likes them, as dire an indictment of their contemptible mediocrity as you could possibly hope for.
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But it’s not just this side of the Atlantic that has the problem. Look at Rihanna, with her tattoos and tedious naked selfies on Instagram. She’s “dangerous”! She’s “edgy”! Even her boyfriend is, to say the very least, a bit rough around the edges (and a massive fucking bell-end, but you already knew that). With an image like this, you, think, surely she must be a maverick artist walking the razor’s edge. But she isn’t. Anyone with a basic command of rhythm and melody could sing a Rhianna tune. She has released an album a year over the last seven years. How much of that music do you suppose is truly memorable? There’s nothing exceptional about her other than her willingness to get naked for the camera and her apparent compliance at being a human punching bag. Her voice is average and her talent is debatable, but she’s everywhere, all the time, because she’s What’s Hot Right Now. In reality, she’s just Lady Gaga without the decent songs and the meat dress.
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Not everyone has to sound like Slayer. We need something for the mums and dads, but I have ten times more respect for Steps than I do for some clown who graces the front page of the NME telling us how “real” they are. These people are as real as a Big Mac. Put your hands together and pray for some troublemakers to turn up at The Brit Awards next year and set stuff on fire while trying to start a fight with Will.I.Am, before it’s too late.